Saturday, February 27, 2010

A fellow flying blogger visits Sydney

Without any doubt, the highlight of writing an aviation blog is meeting in real life pilots I first got in touch with through the blog. This is how I had a coffee at Frankfurt airport with Vincent in 2008, and how I went flying with Chris in 2009. 2010 promises to be a bumper year in that respect, something I am really looking forward to.

Early January I had the pleasure of playing host for one day to Michael and his lovely wife who had the very inspired idea of leaving the Michigan winter behind and spent a few weeks in Australia and New Zealand over the holiday season. Michael is the blogger behind Cleared for the Option and flies out of Willow Run airport (KYIP), near Detroit and is currently working on his instrument rating.

The three of us went for a local flight around Sydney on a Sunday morning, leaving the circuit for 11L at Bankstown on crosswind in the Archer VH-SFA.

We flew the GA lane northbound across Sydney's northern suburbs and turned southbound around Palm Beach.

I started descending to 1500ft over the water. Approaching Long Reef, we experienced some radio problems when requesting a clearance for the Harbour Scenic One procedure: the transmission was perfect one moment, chopped and hardly audible the next. I tried switching radios, still the same. I advised ATC I would do orbits outside of controlled airspace and contact them again when the problem is fixed.

Michael suggested that since I was low and doing orbits, my wing may be blocking the signal intermittently. That made a lot of sense, so I climbed and flew straight for a moment and the problem fixed itself. Thanks Michael!

Tracking towards the Harbour Bridge our traffic was a helicopter towing a massive red banner over Manly Beach. He was not going terribly fast so we overtook him on the right hand side.

This was a banner ad for WeightWatchers. I find it kind of cruel to fly a weight loss ad over the beach on a Sunday afternoon, it's really preying on beachgoers' insecurities, which I guess makes for effective advertisement.

We did a couple of orbits over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House which offered great views of Sydney CBD. Did I already mention that The Matrix was shot here?

After that we tracked south along the coast on the Victor One route. Clouds were starting to build up, time to head back to Bankstown!

Below is Stanwell Park, not too far from where Laurence Hargrave flew his box kites which inspired many of the early pioneers of heavier-than-air flight, including the Wright brothers. Today hand gliders launch from there, the launch pad can be seen on the right-hand side of the carpark.

We flew back to Bankstown via Appin, followed the M5, called inbound at 2RN and joined final for runway 11R at Warwick Farm. All the details in the video below, and as you can see I had a lot of fun playing with Youtube's annotations feature!

Before saying goodbye we exchanged out-of-date aviation charts as we had agreed beforehand. When Michael opened the Detroit sectional chart to show me his local airspace, I couldn't believe the density of aerodromes. The scale of the chart is the same as our VNC in Australia, but there's many, many more airports. Granted, the population density of the US is eleven times that of Australia, but that's still very impressive. Michael also gave me some approach plates for his home airport of Willow Run, my first time holding approach plates in my hands actually since I do not have, nor am I training for, an instrument rating (yet).

It was great meeting Michael and his lovely wife, we had a great time flying around Sydney and exchanging pilot stories. Now I only need to find a valid reason to pay Michael a visit in Detroit and go for a local flight with him out of Willow Run. And I'm afraid setting a new record with a $2,000+ trans-Pacific hamburger run is not a valid reason.

Update: Michael posted his write-up of our flight with some extra photos, make sure to visit his blog! Thanks again Michael for getting in touch with me in the first place, this was awesome!


Todd - said...

Great photos and video. I am sure it was fun for two bloggers from different continents to get together for a flight.

Julien said...

It sure was! Todd, I hope you're tempted now :-)